It's been two weeks since Kansas 70.3 so this blog is way overdue. In fact there's been so many races on the triathlon circuit and quite a few more miles in my legs, that it feels more than two weeks ago. My trip to Lawrence was short and sweet and I had a great time during my stay. In a large part this was due to my wonderful home-stay, Laura (and her husband Jeff who was away for the weekend but crucially made it back in time for celebratory margaritas after the race), and to race director, Ryan and his huge team of volunteers who put on a professional but super friendly and relaxed race.
Going into the race I felt pretty uncertain as to what to expect from myself. Since moving to Boulder at the end of April my training had been up and down. Knocked out with an infection, it took me a while to acclimate to the altitude and then just as I was getting into the swing of training I strained a ligament in my back which basically had me out of action 10 days before Kansas. I felt like I was missing the consistency I usually draw confidence from going into a race, but having already had to pull Florida 70.3 from my schedule I was going to make it to Kansas start line whatever so I spent much of that week in and out of physio, chiropractor and massage appointments. I had to race to try and pay off my medical bills. A strained ligament doesn't repair over night but come race week I was moving much more easily and bagging some good sessions during my "inverse" taper. I'd almost put all thoughts of my bumpy prep into the race out of mind until I listened to a message from my coach, Matt telling me that I should forget all the training I've missed. Doh! So, what do I then do but remember ... Luckily I'm quite good at the amnesia game!
Race morning arrived and everything went pretty smoothly. I was pleased to hear that the swim would be non-wetsuit, and a quick look at the lake showed it was going to be a bumpy swim too. Watching the men head out and soon spread out in all directions I figured it would be pretty hard to find feet (and by feet I mean Amanda Stevens's super speedy feet!) So, I enjoyed the bumpy lumpy swim and got to enjoy longer than normal in the water for 1.9km. Onto the bike, the Kansas course was my cup of tea. Undulating, windy and nice and warm to boot. I caught Amanda, who had a 1 plus minute lead from the swim, at about the 15 mile mark. I felt pretty good and pushed on. I was using a disc, thank you Shimano, for the first time and it felt fast especially when the wind caught it at the right angle and it felt like a sail: pushing me on. In the latter part of the bike I could definitely feel it was heating up....the run was going to be fun!
Heat I was happy to deal with, I was less certain as to how my back would feel after 90km in the aero bars. I'd used the hills to get out the saddle and stretch things out a bit so I was optimistic. Heading out of T2 I had the usual heavy leg feel but from my first couple of mile splits I could see I was running pretty well...maybe too fast: i didn't want to blow up. I had a few guys in front of me so I used the out and backs to try and keep pace with them. There was a particularly cruel hill with no shade that I felt like I was crawling up! Luckily round the corner there was the aid station where Laura and her friends were volunteering and their cheers pepped me up.
With temperatures of 90 degrees plus, running down the yellow brick road to be greeted by Dorothy and the full Wizard of Oz crew was a good sight. My first race since touching down in Boulder and my first 70.3 win. I like Kansas ...even more so when I discovered that the post race food included pulled pork rolls.
As always, lots of thank yous. To all my sponsors for kitting me out with the best kit: Cervelo, Newton, Aquasphere, Shimano, PowerBar, XLabs, ISM and Biestmilch. My fabulous home-stay hostess, Laura and to Ryan and the volunteers for putting on a great race. To my support crew scattered far and wide: coach MD, family and friends (you know who you are) who've put up with rather an up and down past 2 months!
Next up is Challenge Roth - which I am pretty darned excited to be racing. I'll keep you posted on adventures in Germany!
This weekend saw a ton of triathlon goings-on in the Newton family! Craig Alexander hit the bricks in his first race since his epic victory at Ironman Melbourne in March at Ironman 70.3 Eagleman in Maryland. The reigning Ironman (BOTH distances) World Champ was out of the water with the lead pack in a time of 23:17. He followed this up by laying down a blazing bike split of 2:03:57, which came on a flat but windy course that gave many athletes trouble. Coming out of T2 25 seconds down on the race leader, Craig and his Newtons did what they do best and took control of the race by posting a 1:15:07 half-marathon split for a winning time of 3:44:57.
A few hundred miles to the West, Newton pro Rachel Joyce was taking on brutal race conditions at Ironman 70.3 Kansas. After post the second fastest women's swim time of the day in very choppy conditions, Rachel completely dominated the rast of the race. She posted the fastest women's bike split by 7:11 (2:22:10) as well as the fastest women's run split (1:21:21). These splits combined found Rachel just shy of a whopping 23 minutes in front of the second place finisher!
Holding down the Newtonian contingent at Ironman 70.3 Kansas on Sunday was part of Newton's crack legal team, Thom W. On a day that saw winds kicking up a few white caps on Clinton Lake as well as record temps on the bike and run course made for a race that was a bit less than perfect. In the end though, Thom was super happy that he made it through such tough conditions and notching off his 2nd 70.3!
There were three Newtonians who joined Craig at Eagleman as well. Scott Burrow, Steve Johnson and Andrew Maxwell all set off into the tough heat, humidity and breeze. After flatting during the swim ("How?" you ask? In high heat tires/tubes that are pushing the limits of their inflation can expand and burst), Scott went on to have a solid race. Taking a break from his duties at the Newton Running Lab here in Boulder, Steve had a killer day, winning his age group with an awesome 4:03:47 which punched his ticket to Kona in October. Congrats Steve!
Big props to all who raced in Newtons this weekend!
My 2012 season officially had lift off on the 3 March at the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon. With it's unique racing format (3km swim: 200km bike: 20 km run) and location (you get to ride on the Yas Marina grand prix circuit) its an early season race that attracts a top notch field.
I went into the race with a good block of training under my belt after spending 7 weeks on the Spanish Canary Islands. I wanted to race well and to use it as a build for Ironman Melbourne three weeks later.
My race got off to a decent start. I was swimming comfortably with the front pack, with über swimmer Jodie Swallow gaining a two minute advantage off the front. Onto the bike I felt good and rode the first 40 km comfortably in a group of three until Caroline Steffan put a surge in and dropped me and fellow Brit, Emma Kate Lidbury on the Yas circuit. I didn't panic and kept to my pace. Two hundred kilometers is a long way and I didn't want to expend too much energy too soon!
At one point the TV crew pulled up next to me on amotorbike and started to try and conduct an interview. "How was I feeling?", "Was I suffering in the heat?".. Now, I didn't want to appear uncooperative but I was in a race and putting some effort into the bike so I probably wasn't at my most chatty :).
At about the 100km mark the chasing pack caught me. In retrospect I wish I'd at least
attempted to go with them, but I didn't and over the next 80km they built quite a gap. I felt a little frustrated with myself going into T2 but I'd already resolved that's I was going to give it what for on the run. It was a pleasure to put my new Newton Distance light weight running shoes on and head out not the run. I let my legs come to me and I felt good. I focused on keeping my turnover high and just ran as hard as I could. Although the women ahead had a good head start no race is over till you cross the finish line! Starting the run I was in 7th place and I ran into 5th. Yes, I'm a little disappointed with my overall result but take big positives from my running the fastest in split of the day (1.11:53 for 20km), and setting a new run course record (oh, and 6th fastest run overall :) ).
I'm now in Melbourne putting in my final preparation for Ironman Melbourne on 25 March. It's all set to be another fantastic day of racing with a really stacked field. I can't wait!